I have never had a bad time in Tokyo, but I think I would be hard pressed to top the three nights I had there on this swing through town.
My Shinkansen got in mid-afternoon. N was still on the base in Yokohama and wouldn’t be in until that evening. I hopped a cab and told him to bring me to the Park Hyatt. I would be staying there for three nights on a combination of paid nights and Hyatt Gold Passport point redemption.
When I got out of the cab, I was escorted inside, then to the elevator leading to the lobby, which if I am remembering correctly is on the 42nd floor. I could see the conflict in the eyes of the Japanese woman who met me when I got out of the taxi. I was wearing an old Army jacket, hadn’t shaved in weeks and was traveling only with carry-on bags. I could sense she wanted to ask if I was in the right place, so before she was forced to choose, I told her my name and said I was checking-in.
Two staffers took me to my room where check-in was completed. I had requested an upgrade but they told me that unfortunately the hotel was fully booked at this time, so they were unable to upgrade me to a bigger room. After coming from the Sheraton in Osaka, I didn’t care. I was thrilled to be back in a top notch hotel.
The staff members showed me the various features of the room, then left me to my own devices. Since I would have a few hours before N’s arrival, I went up to the gym. Bill Murray and ScarJo were not hitting the weights OR the elliptical.
While I was waiting for N, I made plans with him via txt and e-mailed my new Turkish friend from Osaka, as he was also in Tokyo. We came to a consensus that we would have dinner at a yakitori place near the Park Hyatt, then I would have the Park Hyatt book us a VIP table at Feria. One of the tables in the raised section with the Yakuza bosses and the models.
After N’s arrival, we stopped by the concierge. They said that Feria’s VIP was sold out and the best they could do was lodge a request for a table in the VIP and otherwise commit us to a lousier table. We decided to take this place holder for the time being.
Since N hadn’t been to the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt before (and they actually charge non-guests entry), we decided to have a few beers there before going to dinner. There are great views, but otherwise I don’t see the hype. The jazz ensemble are not particularly talented, the space is very small and it’s a bit boring. I suppose it’d be a nice place to bring a date, but otherwise not worth the trip for non-hotel guests.
The concierge recommended a yakitori place just around the corner, so N and I set up plans to meet Turkey there towards the end of our meal.
The yakitori was pretty good and we got into the sake and beers pretty strongly during dinner. Turkey made it just at the end, but was still able to throw down a small wooden box of sake and a beer before we took off.
Since it was still pretty early, we stopped at an absolute dump of a bar called Wall Street in Roppongi. We choked down our drinks as fast as we could and got out of there, it was absolutely terrible.
At Feria, I asked for the contact the concierge from the Park Hyatt had spoken to. She told me one table had opened up in the VIP. We did the requisite price haggling, then N, Turkey and I threw down our cards to split the table 3-ways once we had settled on what we wanted (multiple bottles of vodka).
We were settling into our table when I noticed a group of 5-6 girls in the booth next to ours. I invited them to join us. They were from New Zealand. About an hour in, they said they had some friends outside of the VIP and asked if they could join. I asked if the friends were guys. They said yes, two guys. I said they could join if they bought another bottle for our table. They complied. At some point I started making out with the blonde New Zealander I liked, and an asian man I have never seen before in my life sent a magnum of champagne to our table. Things started to get a little weird.
Prior to last call, it was decided we were going to an afterparty (why it was an afterparty before the bar closed I’m not sure). We popped into the nearest corner store and bought bags of liquor and mixers. The next thing I knew, we are in an absolutely absurd apartment at the Ritz-Carlton residences. Given the prices of everything in Tokyo, I am not even sure I want to imagine what this place would have cost to purchase. It was two or three bedrooms, multiple balconies, etc…It was me, N, the apartment’s owner, one of the guys who had joined our table and the New Zealanders.
The party kept going until sometime around 7am, when I guess our host realized he wasn’t going to get lucky and expelled everyone. He damn near kicked in the door on me and blondie to tell us it was time to giddy up and get out of his place.
Me, blondie, N and his girl spilled out onto the street in front of the “Park Residences” in broad daylight, still drunk, laughing like idiots. The New Zealand girls invited us to go to Tokyo Disney later that day. We said absolutely not and hailed a cab back to the Park Hyatt. I woke up around 4pm to N packing his stuff up.
“I’m done man, I can’t handle it. I need to go back to Yokohama”
“It’s been one night, I’m here for three nights, you’re throwing in the towel?”
“I have to man, I need to go home and lie in my bed and then we’ll see. Maybe i’ll rally tonight, but right now I just, I have to go.”
I couldn’t argue with N. It had been a long night, and not everyone is built to handle all nighters. I let him go without too much argument, and then sent him demeaning text messages the rest of the day.
I went back to bed for a few hours, ordered room service, watched a crappy movie and then on towards 11pm got my 15th wind. I cleaned myself up, went to the New York Bar and took a seat at the large communal bar/table towards the back. Within 30 minutes of sitting down, a girl from Hong Kong picked me up. I had been on the fence about actually leaving the hotel, but this sealed it.
I am a regular at Le Baron in Paris, and I have been to the one in NYC, so I figured I would give the Tokyo outpost a try, since all the reviews painted it as one of the best bars in Tokyo. HKG and I finished our drinks and hopped into a cab. We got slightly lost in the alleyways near Le Baron, but eventually found it.
The bar was awful. Walking down from street level to the bar felt like entering a Disney version of Le Baron Paris, with cartoonish crap all over the place. The bar itself was way too big and poorly laid out. I struggled my way through a few drinks and some conversation with HKG, but before it got too late I told her I’d had enough and opted to bail.
I should have gone along with Turkey. He went to a cheesy club in Roppongi and told me he had a blast.
I woke up refreshed Sunday since I had gone to bed early. I walked around Shinjuku, then took a train over to Ginza for some ramen, followed by more wandering and photography.
I had been texting with a friend of a friend. She was Estonian and currently studying in Japan. We had been hinting around making plans, but hadn’t committed on a time or a place. As luck would have it, she finally sent me a text asking to meet in Ginza when I was already on the train back to Shinjuku and almost at my stop.
I ignored her for a while, went back to my room and took a shower. I googled the girl and saw she had been on the cover of Estonian Playboy, and had also been in FHM and done a bunch of other shoots. This seemed like a meeting I would be a fool to miss, and I thought “f*ck it, it’s my last night.” I agreed to meet her at the cross street she suggested and I hopped back on the train.
We met up, then walked over towards the Peninsula and went up to the top-floor bar to have some drinks. After a few rounds, we decided to see if a bar that my friend had suggested in Roppongi would be open. It had closed at midnight. I was open to going to a dive bar, but Ms. Estonia was not.
I knew the New York Bar would be closing soon, but suggested we go there. She agreed. We managed to get one drink in at the New York Bar before it closed up for the night. Thank god for mini-bars and room service.
The next day I was set to go back to Bangkok, Ms. Estonia and I had lunch on the lobby level of the Park Hyatt before I left for the airport. She had been raving about the club sandwich there, so we both ordered them. However, while mine was a normal club sandwich, her’s was vegetarian, so in essence it was just lettuce and tomato on bread…doesn’t sound so exciting to me.
I put my new friend in a taxi, then set off for Narita. I knew I was probably heading to the airport way too early, but as I’m sure you know by now…I like being at the airport.
Park Hyatt Tokyo Report Card
Pros: This is an absolutely top draw hotel, great staff, service, etc…wifi, safe, minibar, nice gym and pool, very famous onsite bar, multiple restaurants, easy to get cabs, lovely bathtubs in the room, good room service, very stylish and spacious rooms.
Cons: A bit far from Ginza and some other highlights.
Verdict: I would absolutely stay here. While some people think the Park Hyatt is the best hotel in Tokyo (some say even in the world), I don’t agree. I think the Peninsula is the best hotel in Tokyo, but I would still be thrilled to check into the Park Hyatt again in the future.